Film director, a lyricist and a poet, Gulzar (Sampooran Singh Kalra) talks about his Partition experiences. He was born in Dina, Jhelum in 1934.
My father was stuck on the other side of the border while we had arrived here in Delhi. We were at Sabzi Mandi which was among the worst riot-affected areas. Sabzi Mandi, Sadar and Paharganj were terribly affected when the riots started.
These areas were very close to our school. For me the riots were terrifying. We did not know what was happening, why it was happening. All we knew was that India was going to be divided. We saw people being killed and it didn’t make any sense.
I remember a small incident. In school, there was a boy leading our daily prayers each morning – in MB Middle School, Roshanara Bagh – and right in front of me I saw a sardar dragging this boy tied with a rope, pulling him towards Roshanara Bagh. People peeped from their windows and doors but nobody came out. The roads were totally empty. When we asked him where he was taking this boy, pat came his reply, “I’m sending him to Pakistan!”
Soon he came back, down the same road, with a blood-soaked sword in his hands, almost triumphantly. Oh the horror of it! People want to know how I reacted to this. Did I cry? No, I didn’t. You know, out of horror, a silence settles inside you. That is what happened to me.
He further talks about the fact that most people still believed that after the riots they are going back to their homes
Then again, while there was a lot of movement of people across the border on both sides, a strong, lingering thought echoed in the minds of most: "We will come back home." They thought, "For how long can this madness go on?"
Hardly anyone felt that their refugee condition meant having to leave their homes forever. The general feeling was, "Okay. Pakistan has been created. So what? We’ll go back to our homes as soon as the confusion subsides."
This registered in my child’s mind very clearly.